May 27, 2017

Alzheimer’s Disease Death Rates Soar How? Why?

Death rates from Alzheimer's disease rise sharply indicating a need for greater patient and caregiver assistance.

Death rates from Alzheimer’s disease increased by 55 percent
By Bob DeMarco
Alzheimer's Reading Room

Death rates from Alzheimer’s disease (AD) increased by 55 percent between 1999 and 2014, according to a study released by the Centers for Disease control and Prevention (CDC).

The number of Alzheimer’s deaths at home also increased from 14 percent to 25 percent. Based on the Alzheimer's Reading Room this does not surprise me. Many caregivers deliver on a promise they made to a loved one to keep them a home.

My number one goal was to deliver on my promise made 25 years earlier to keep my mom at home, and out of what she called a home - nursing home. She died in our home on May 25, 2012. In many ways this might have been the greatest accomplishment of my life.

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The evidence from the CDC points out the need for greater assistance for caregivers of those living with Alzheimer's.

We do our job and we do it well. We need some help. We are not getting the help we need.

I can say that Hospice was of great help to me in those last days. I might not have made it without them. I was wiped out.

  • Alzheimer’s disease is a fatal form of dementia. It is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, accounting for 3.6 percent of all deaths in 2014. It is the fifth leading cause of death among people ages 65 years and older in the United States.
Millions of Americans and their family members are profoundly affected by Alzheimer’s disease.” 
Our study reveals an increase in the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease-related deaths. As the number of older Americans with Alzheimer’s disease rises, more family members are taking on the emotionally and physically challenging role of caregiver than ever before. These families need and deserve our support.” ~ CDC Acting Director Anne Schuchat

This study is the first to provide county-level rates for deaths caused by AD.

CDC researchers analyzed state- and county-level death certificate data from the National Vital Statistics System to identify deaths with AD reported as the underlying cause.

According to the analysis, possible reasons for the increase include:
  1. the growing population of older adults in the U.S., increases in diagnosis of AD at earlier stages
  2. increased reporting by physicians and others who record the cause of death
  3. and fewer deaths from other causes of deaths for the elderly, such as heart disease and stroke.

Key findings from analysis of Alzheimer's disease rates include:
  1. The death rate increased 55 percent—from 16.5 per 100,000 people in 1999 to 25.4 per 100,000 in 2014 after accounting for age.
  2. Most Alzheimer’s deaths still occur in a nursing home or long-term care facility, but fewer in 2014 (54 percent) than in 1999 (68 percent).
  3. Counties with the highest death rates were primarily in the Southeast; other areas with high rates included the Midwest and West Coast.
  4. Age is the greatest risk factor for AD; most adults with the disease are 65 years or older. As fewer people die from other diseases, more survive into older adulthood and the risk for AD increases.
“As Alzheimer’s disease progresses, caregiving becomes very important. Caregivers and patients can benefit from programs that include education about Alzheimer’s disease, how to take care of themselves and their loved one, and case management to lessen the burden of care.
Supportive interventions can lessen the burden for caregivers and improve the quality of care for people with Alzheimer’s disease.” ~ Christopher Taylor, Ph.D., CDC’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.

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It is my belief that if Alzheimer's caregivers will open their mind, along with their heart, they can come to only one main conclusion - they are leading a meaningful and purposeful life.

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